James Garwood leased the land on which this house stands from Dr Daniel Watkins in 1864. Garwood was a prominent early businessman in Akaroa. He established the first hotel at Hilltop and this house is similar in style to, but smaller than, the hotel (which has been replaced by the present Hilltop Hotel).
By 1883 one of Dr Watkins’s sons, William, was living in the house. In the 1890s it became a doctor’s residence and a surgery was added to it. From 1909 until 1966, different members of an established and extensive Peninsula family, the Narbeys, owned and occupied it.
The house is an attractive example of Carpenter Gothic, a style that became popular once machine-made mouldings and other embellishments such as turned finials and fret-sawn bargeboards became readily available. This is an early example of a style that was popular in the 1870s and 1880s. The dormers are a recent addition and the house has lost its chimney but these changes do not seriously detract from its authenticity.